This was a busy night, with around 80 guests. We started off with a talk by maritime archaeologist Michael Nash, Manager Historic Heritage at the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service. Mike's illustrated talk covered shipwrecks right around the Tasmanian coast, dating from the Sydney Cove, which ran aground in 1797 in the Furneaux Group, to the Viola, uncovered by stormy weather just a few weeks ago.
By coincidence, a story about the Viola appeared in the Hobart Mercury on the same day as our talk, featuring Mike's discussion of how the wreck was identified by analysis of the timbers which pinpointed construction to north America. Perhaps it was this timely exposure in the press that prompted some additional guests to attend.
As always with our Friends audience, there were lots of questions for Mike. One enquiry centred on what divers do if confronted by a dead body among the wreckage. Mike answered that fortunately that has only happened once in his personal experience. Depending on the circumstances of the wreck, the cargo can endure for a long time. Sealed bottles have been recovered from a number of wrecks. Recently yeast from the Sydney Cove cargo was reactivated to produce a beer with an extremely long pedigree.
We also took a walk through the Tempest shipwrecks gallery, with its magnificently lit collection of paintings and ship models. TMAG Senior History Curator Elspeth Wishart and model expert Michael Stoddart were on hand to chat with guests and answer questions about the exhibits.
The TMAG Shop opened to give guests the opportunity to avail themselves of the 10% Friends discount on all items.
Below: Artefacts recovered from the Brahmin (Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service)